Theoretical Perspectives

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Structural Functionalism

Attempts to explain how a society is organized so it can function, Every one has a ROLE that makes society run SMOOTHLY. They rely on Interdependance, therefore if there is one change it effects all. Institutions such as schools play a part in this. This theory examines roles people play in an institution. Status is the position like student, role is the set of behaviours like attending class. The Goal is to reach a consensus, parts work together without conflict. Problem: Some functionalists may go too far and say how they should behave, this theory ignores diversity. Strength: Helps determine role and behaviour. Developed by Emile Durkeim (organic solidarit

Systems Theory

Attempts to explain how groups of individuals interact as a system, they work together and influence one another. Examines family processes. Feedback informs members how to interact and maintain the system. Difficult to trace origins of behaiour because feedback implies give and take. (Recipricol). Family Systems have subsystems:
Family-unit (members sharing a household)
Interpersonal (husband-wife, rather-son)
personal subsystem (interaction between self and family)
Develop strategies for achieving goals, all members share responsibility for this habit
Explains behaviour of individuals
Problem: Difficult to see who is influencing who
Strength: analyzes groups working in a system

Symbolic Interactionism

Attempts to explain how individuals choose how they will act based on their perspectives of themselves and others. PEople experience things and interpret their experiences to give them meaning. Theorists try to understand their perspective. There are 3 concepts:
Individual develops a "self"
me- objective qualities (tall male student)
i- subjective, awareness of self (good student shy ) how feedback from otehrs is interpreted" - charles cooney
Take attitude of the other to anticipate what the other will do and how they should respond - george mead
PEople can only interact with a shared common language-> symbols-> mead disagreed he said language is the means of how people interpret to give meaning

John Gray says men and woman are diferent because they have different interpretations. So if they share common symbols they could improve relationships by learning other's behaviours.
This theory emphasizes mental processes of perception and interpretation to determine other's behaviours. Micro thoery.
Useful to analyze observations of individuals and small groups of people.
Limitation is the researcher perceives the actions of the individuals and could be influenced by researcher's own believes and could be innacurate.

Social Exchange Theory

Attempts to explain social factors that influence how individuals act in a reciprocol relationship. Theorists say individuals are constrained by role expectations they act within the role to maximize benefits they will receive and minimize costs.
Stable relationship cost=benefits
People prefer benefits to be larger then cost. People use pros and cons to figure out whether or not to stay in relationship. Benefits meet a social , economical, etc. Cost is something ou have to give up.
Pro: use to explain how indvs. make descisions to form and maintain relationships
Con: Come people offended by this analysis

Developmental Theories

Use an interdisciplinary approach to attempt to describe patterns of growth and change throughout the human life span. As people go through life they face challenges that challenge them to develop, called "Developmental tasks". Erik Erikson says individuals develop indentities seperate from their parents to make transition from adolescnece to adulthood. Describe predictable changes in behaviours, how a person or family adapts to stimuli, analyzed with systems theory to analyze how transitions take place. Examine socio, psych, bio, age. (care ful of periods of time like baby boomers)

Conflict Theory

Interdisciplinary sociological and political theory that explains how power holds a society together. Conflict exists between groups in society because of inequalities in power. Assumes groups compete with one another to meet needs. Macro theory. Explains society. Fucntional theorists ask functional for who? Society organized into groups.
Karl Marx says bourgeoisie have money proltariat don't. And bourgeoisie has less people but more moneey and then the gap willgrow larger, more money less people etc. Marx says inequality can be prevented. Frederich Engels says dicision in sexes in marriage is necessary to maintain the class distinctions of capitalism. Opression of woman not to end until capitalism ends.
Useful to explain how power holds society together
Con: makes assumptions

Feminist Theory

Explains impact of sex and gender on behaviour and to consider issues of human behaviour from the POV of women.
Androcrocity- bias that assumes male experience is human therefore applies to women
Double standards- biase that applies different standards for the evaluating the behaviour of men and women.
Change is required so all needs of men and women are met.
Liberal feminism- argues discrimination forces women to an inferior society that resricts rights
Socialist feminism- based on an assumption that status of women in social inequality ruled in sexual dicision of paid and unpaid labour. Challenges capitalism and patriarchy
Raidcal Feminsm- differences in power result in male female relationship to be exploited, only females can correct this.
Feminists advocate vary becaise people percieve causes different;y.
Useful for finding impact
More then one theory and can get sexist.

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